Grammy highlights: Steamy duets and Dolly’s delights
This year’s Grammys were dominated by Lady Gaga, Kacey Musgraves and Childish Gambino, who won four awards but was absent from the ceremony.
Musgraves won the coveted album of the year and best country album for Golden Hour while Gaga got two prizes for Shallow, from the movie A Star Is Born won two.
Gambino’s powerful This is America won song of the year and record of the year.
There was also some British success with Dua Lipa winning best new artist and Ella Mai winning best R&B song for Bood’s Up.
Here are some other stand out moments from the awards.
Camila kicks things off in style
Demonstrating the power and prominence of Latin Pop, the opening number was a huge, West Side Story-inspired extravaganza, starring Camila Cabello, Ricky Martin, J Balvin and renowned Cuban-American trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.
Cabello got the party started, performing Havana in a mock-up of her grandmother’s childhood home in a canary yellow two-piece dress. After an intricate piece of handkerchief choreography (yes, that’s a thing) Cabello ceded the stage to Martin, who performed his 2006 hit Pegate, followed by international sensation Balvin, with his smash Mi Gente.
Flanked by dozens of dancers and a full Cuban salsa band, the performance sizzled and sparkled – throwing down a gauntlet to every other artist on the bill.
If only the Grammys had scheduled it a year earlier, when Cabello and Balvin’s songs were current and award-eligible, it would have been a masterstroke.
Kacey Musgraves tops the leaderboard
For the dual crimes of being musically progressive and female, Kacey Musgraves was essentially frozen out by the country music establishment, which makes her album of the year win at the Grammys all the more delectable.
The victorious album, Golden Hour, is a sensual and emotionally-candid record, written as she fell for her now-husband, Ruston Kelly, who she says opened her mind “to a kind of love I never really envisioned for myself”.
Although the record flirts with other genres, incorporating elements of psychedelia and disco, it’s the timeless songcraft that will have won over the voters.
“I would have nothing without songs,” said the star. “It’s all about the songs.”
Drake finally appears – and rejects the concept of awards shows
Drake notoriously boycotted previous Grammy ceremonies, withholding his records from consideration because he felt he was being unfairly sidelined in the rap categories.
This year, he declined to perform despite an invitation from producers, so it must have seemed like a coup when he agreed to turn up on stage to accept the best rap song (natch) award for God’s Plan.
“I want to take a moment to talk to the kids who want to do music,” he said. “I want to let you know that you play in an opinion-based sport. This a business where it’s sometimes up to a bunch of people who might not understand what a mixed-raced kid from Canada might have to say.
“The point is, you’ve already won if people are singing your songs word for word. If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain and the snow to see your show, you’ve already won.” (There may have been more but he was cut off mid-speech.)
I bet he puts the award on his mantelpiece anyway.
Women take centre stage
Following criticism that women were sidelined at the 2018 Grammys, this year’s ceremony established its feminist credentials right from the beginning.
Host Alicia Keys invited “my sisters” Lady Gaga, Jada Pinket-Smith and Jennifer Lopez onto the stage, alongside Michaelle Obama, who towered over them all.
They each told a personal story of how music changed their life, with J-Lo saying it “kept me moving from the Bronx to the big screen and the even bigger stages.”
When it came to her turn, the former First Lady was drowned out by applause, and had to restart her speech.
“From the Motown records I wore out on the South Side, to the Who Run The World songs that fuelled me through the last decade, music helps me tell my story,” she said.
“Music helps us share ourselves, our dignities and our sorrows. Music shows us all of it matters, every story with every voice, every note in every song.”
“Put your hands back in the air, don’t be lazy”
Once a diva, always a diva, forever Ms Ross.
Dua Lipa and St Vincent get steamy
The pop stars’ erotically-charged, serpentine performance gave off more sparks than a toaster on the fritz.
St Vincent took to the stage first, showing off her inestimable guitar skills on a solo version of Masseduction. When Dua emerged from the shadows, they tarried on an excerpt of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, ending with the British star purring “sock it to me” and launching into One Kiss.
St Vincent scrawled fuzztone guitar over the formerly-pristine club hit, and it all got rather hot under the collar. Though not too hot as to trouble the censors.
I LOVE YOU GUYS MORE THAN YOU KNOW!!! IM SO BLOWN AWAY BY TONIGHT AND I AM SO EXCITED TO BRING YOU MORE! 😭❤️
— DUA LIPA (@DUALIPA) February 11, 2019
Bebe Rexha manages to get a dress
Two weeks before the Grammys, best new artist nominee Bebe Rexha publicly criticised a number of designers for refusing to dress her because she was “too big”.
In a candid Instagram video, the star said fashion houses wouldn’t work with her because she’s a size 8 (UK size 12). In the aftermath, she received offers from Karl Lagerfeld and Monsoori, who she wore on the red carpet on Sunday.
“I feel like a princess,” she said. “I just did the video because I was heart-broken and I was really bummed out. I love my body and I want other girls to love their body.”
According to Google, Rexha’s dress was the most-searched gown of the night.
Alicia Keys shows off
What’s the point of hosting an awards show if you can’t use it for ridiculous wish fulfilment.
Alicia Keys opened the second half of the Grammy ceremony sandwiched between two grand pianos, (one black, one white) playing Scott Joplin’s Maple Rag Leaf with one hand on each keyboard.
“I always wanted to play two pianos,” grinned the irritatingly dextrous star, before playing some of the songs that have inspired her through the years, including Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable, Roberta Flack’s Killing Me Softly, Ella Mai’s Boo’d Up, Lauryn Hill’s Doo Wop (That Thing) and Kings Of Leon’s Use Somebody.
“Who doesn’t wish they’d written this song?” she asked of each of song.
“And then finally, you write the song you wished you’d wrote,” she added, launching into Empire State Of Mind, her hit single with Jay-Z.
Cardi B makes history
A former stripper and Instagram personality, Cardi B arrived at rapping late in the day – but she grasped the opportunity with both hands. After scoring major crossover hits with Bodak Yellow, I Like It and the Bruno Mars collaboration Finesse, she made history on Sunday by becoming the first solo female to win best rap album.
As she says on the single Money – which she performed on Sunday – “I heard that Cardi went pop / That’s me bustin’ they bubble”.
Gaga chokes back the tears
The first televised prize of the night went to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, whose song Shallow (from A Star Is Born) won best pop duet.
Holding back tears, Gaga paid tribute to her co-star “who’s over at the Baftas in the UK” – where A Star Is Born also won best music.
“I’m so proud to be a part of a movie that addresses mental health issues,” the star added.
“A lot of artists deal with that and we gotta take care of each other. So if you see someone that’s hurting, don’t look away.”
Dolly’s all-star tribute
A who’s who of country music joined Dolly Parton, who’s been named the Grammys’ “person of the year”. Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Little Big Town, Katy Perry and Parton’s goddaughter Miley Cyrus took the stage for a feel-good run-through of her biggest hits, including 9 to 5 and Jolene.
The highlight was a cover of Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, with Parton, Cyrus and Morris harmonising flawlessly in a spine-tingling a capella breakdown.
But why did no-one consider calling the segment “Dolly’s mixtures”?
J-Lo’s monstrous Motown mash-up
With a stunning acrobatic display, Jennifer Lopez paid tribute to the iconic US record label Motown with a medley of hits, including Dancing In The Street, Do You Love Me and Papa Was A Rolling Stone.
She was joined briefly by Smokey Robinson (for My Girl), Alicia Keys and Ne-Yo but this was entirely J-Lo’s show, dazzling in a diamante leotard and a feather-trimmed dress, as she pulled off a series of death-defying lifts and kicks.
“This is the music we listened to, me and my mom and my sisters,” she said, recalling how they used to dance around the house, pretending to be The Supremes.
“I grew up on Motown and the musicals. I think that’s why I’m the performer I am today.”
Chris Cornell’s kids accept a posthumous award
The late singer’s children, Toni and Christopher, took to the stage early on in the evening to accept the award for When Bad Does Good which won best rock performance.
Wearing a t-shirt with her famous father – who took his own life in 2017 at the age of 52 – Toni said: “I never thought we’d be standing here without my dad, he’d be proud and honoured, he was many things, a rock icon, the godfather of grunge”.
Christopher called his “one of the greatest poets of his time, the voice of a generation”.
Toni added; “His voice was his vision and his music was his peace, this is for you daddy and we love you so much.”